Feds Hit Alleged Spammers in Sting

  |  August 25, 2004   |  Comments

The DOJ is set to announce several arrests and indictments againstalleged spammers.

Officials at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) confirmed Wednesday the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will announce arrests and indictments of several alleged American spammers at a press conference Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The DMA said some of those arrests were the result of Operation Slam Spam, a partnership between the DMA and the FBI, which launched in August 2003. The New York-based industry organization provides funding, training for law enforcement officials and a database full of known spammers.

"It's about time, because the majority of spam that we get is just egregiously illegal," said John Levine, chairman of the Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG). "I'm glad to see they finally collected enough stuff that they're ready to move ahead and put these guys in jail where they belong."

The DMA for years has been working on ways to separate its organization, which promotes the legal dissemination of commercial emails, from a spam community, which blasts out millions of illegal unsolicited commercial emails (UCE) monthly. Many of those use spoofed return email addresses, and they're often delivered through zombied computers to allow spammers to avoid paying for bandwidth fees.

In its statement, the DMA said its work with the FBI "helps engender greater trust and comfort in legitimate commercial email communications."

It is likely the spammers will be charged with violating provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, legislation enacted in January to respond to the growing threat of spam, which is perpetuated many times by people located in the United States who host their operations overseas where anti-spam laws aren't as strictly enforced.

The CAN-SPAM Act says people and businesses can send emails, as long as they abide by the constraints: They must include a valid IP address; contain an electronics-based opt-out mechanism; indicate in the subject line that it is an advertisement; and include a legitimate physical mailing address.

It's likely the alleged perpetrators will also be charged under anti-fraud laws that pre-dated CAN-SPAM. Before the legislation passed, the DMA had long maintained that much spam was already illegal under existing federal statutes.

In the past eight months, the new law has had little effect on spamming activity. A recent report by security firm CipherTrust illustrates that 86 percent of the spam sent between May and July originated in the United States. A Senate Commerce Committee hearing in May found wildly different opinions on the effectiveness of the legislation, while only a few arrests have actually been made since the bill's passage. The first CAN-SPAM cases didn't occur until March and April.

It might be a little early to worry about the effectiveness of the fledgling bill, however. Levine said that although it's easy enough to see the numbers of fraudulent spam, getting the FBI or DOJ to provide evidence of guilt on a particular person or business is another thing entirely.

"It's a very new part of law enforcement, and, as a result, building a case is going to be difficult," he said. "They're going to have complicated, technical evidence, and they're going to have to educate the judges as to why this evidence actually support the case and these guys are violating this new law."

A spokesman for the DOJ declined to comment. A spokesman at the FBI's cybercrime division was not immediately available for comment.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Fort MillWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager to join the...
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...